Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

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Green
Author: Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Published March 27th, 2012 by Roaring Brook Press

Goodreads Summary: Die cut pages bring surprise after surprise in this magical new book from the “Queen of the concept book”—an intricate and satisfying homage to green, the color of all creation.
How many kinds of green are there? There’s the lush green of a forest on a late spring day, the fresh, juicy green of a just-cut lime, the incandescent green of a firefly, and the vivid aquamarine of a tropical sea. In her newest book, Caldecott and Geisel Honor Book author Laura Vaccaro Seeger fashions an homage to a single color and, in doing so, creates a book that will delight and, quite possibly astonish you.

Green is a Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Book of 2012.

Review: The limited words on each page allow the reader to get lost in the beauty of the illustrations of this gorgeous children’s book. I was expecting the typical greens but was pleasantly surprised to see the clever takes on wacky green, slow green, and no green at all. I glided from page to page, appreciating the clever cutouts and visual appeal of this incredible children’s book.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This text could be used at a variety of levels. In my reading, I felt it is really asking readers: “How many different ways can you look at the color green?” We see objects, colors, and basic things in our world one way, but how can we interpret them differently? I would love to see this used in a creative writing classroom.

Discussion Questions: Where do we see the color green in our world? Go beyond the expected interpretations.; How does the author creatively present this book? What makes a book with so few worlds so very powerful?

Read This If You Loved: A Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss

Recommended For: 

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RickiSig

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

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If You Find Me
Author: Emily Murdoch
Published: March 26th, 2013 by St. Martin’s Griffin

GoodReads Summary: There are some things you can’t leave behind…

A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.

Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.

Review: It has been a while since I couldn’t put a book down. This gut-wrenching tale captivated me from the very beginning. When authors try to portray emotions, they can feel superficial for readers. But Murdoch’s writing feels effortless. I connected with Carey in a way that reminded me of how I understood Melinda in Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. My hands shook with anger in response to her pain, and as she felt overwhelmed and scared, I cried along with her. The backwoodsy dialect made the story feel real and authentic. It constantly reminded me of where Carey was coming from. Murdoch expertly unfolds the plot for readers, which adds a level of complexity but also makes readers feel as if they are coming to terms with Carey’s life right along with her. This is a beautiful, compelling story that I won’t forget.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: One of the strengths of this book is the special bond between the siblings. Carey’s love for her 6-year-old sister, Jenessa, fills the reader with comfort and sureness. It would be interesting for students to consider this bond and what holds these two sisters together. I could also see students researching more about child abuse and neglect. Carey and Jenessa have to make a dramatic adjustment to life on the outside, and I imagine that students will want to learn more about this struggle and its potential difficulties.

Discussion Questions: Why does Carey keep secrets? Do you agree with her decisions?; Why does Carey have difficulty forming a relationship with her father? Do you think she has been brainwashed?; What are the long-term effects of abuse? What kinds of abuse are there? Will Carey ever heal?

We Flagged:

“I answer her with my silence, understanding the full power of it for the first time. Words are weapons. Weapons are powerful. So are unsaid words. So are unused weapons” (p. 24).

“We make attachments to what’s familiar. We find the beauty, even in the lack. That’s human. We make the best of what we’re given” (p. 169).

Read This If You Loved: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Room by Emma Donoghue, A Child Called “It” by Dave Pelzer, The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (for the sibling bond and the woodsy setting), Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison, White Oleander by Janet Fitch, Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher

Recommended For:

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RickiSig

Skinny Little Tree by Jayme Martin

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Skinny Little Tree
Author: Jayme Martin
Published June 30th, 2013 by Outskirts Press

Goodreads Summary: “All the seasons are worth living…” May Skinny Little Tree, Wiggly Worms, and Little Leaves remind you that all the seasons of life are worth living.

Review: This is a fabulous book to teach children about the changing of seasons. A little boy approaches Skinny Little Tree and asks her whey she is smiling, weeping, worried, etc., and she tells him why she is feeling those emotions. She responds with an answer that shows she doesn’t understand how her environment changes as the seasons change. After each season, there is a workbook page that asks the reader to draw a different element of the plot. I imagine that kids would have a lot of great fun with this interactive text!

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This would be a great book to pair with a unit about the changing seasons or the emotions that we feel. I think kids would have a lot of fun with the interactive drawing sections. I’d love to see students write their own books from the perspective of a different inanimate object as it responds to the seasons changing. For example, a student might choose to write from the perspective of a pond as it goes through the seasons of a year.

It is reminiscent of many Eric Carle books, so teachers might find it valuable to pair them to teach author’s craft.

Discussion Questions: What changes does Skinny Little Tree experience as the seasons change? Which was your favorite season? Why?; What does Skinny Little Tree come to understand by the end of the book?; How does the repetition in this book add to the story?

We Flagged: “‘Skinny Little Tree, / why are you smiling at me?’ / ‘Because Wiggly Worms / are tickling my toes'” (p. 3-4).

Read This If You Loved: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? written by Bill Martin Jr. and illustrated by Eric Carle, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Recommended For: 

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RickiSig

**Thank you to Jayme Martin for providing me with this copy for review!**